How to Recognise a Narcissist

Narcissism is a hot topic – have you noticed?  A lot of people, including clients, tell me they are dealing with a narcissist but this is not as easy to spot as you think.  Someone may have narcissistic traits but not have full blown narcissism.  In fact it really needs to be diagnosed by a professional.  But this article will help you more easily know how to recognise the different faces of narcicissm.

Some classic signs are if you are you tangled in a relationship that feels like a one-way street or perhaps you often find yourself questioning your worth and sanity.  Gaslighting is often a cause of this sense of going crazy.  Though you may consider it “proof” of narcicissm, in fact gaslighting can be done by anyone.  It is simply more common in a narcissist.  Understanding narcissism can be the key to unlocking these mysteries. Here, we delve into the various shades of narcissism, helping you identify the type you might be dealing with.


What is narcissism?


According to the DSM V (the diagnostic tool used by professionals)  “narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) (as opposed to narcissistic traits) entails chronic impairments in social and personal functioning, alongside pathological traits affecting relationships and wellbeing”.  


The Covert Narcissist:  The Victimiser Behind the Veil

Ever encountered someone who plays the victim card while subtly manipulating situations? Meet the covert narcissist. Unlike their overt counterparts, they don’t flaunt their grandiosity but instead resort to blaming, shaming, or emotional neglect to keep the spotlight on themselves.


The Overt Narcissist:  All About Image

The overt narcissist is the classic attention-seeker. Their obsession with status, wealth, and power is usually obvious. Criticism is their kryptonite, triggering extreme sensitivity even to the slightest hint of disapproval.


The Antagonistic Narcissist:  Competitors at Heart


Always striving to be the alpha, the antagonistic narcissist thrives on competition and rivalry. They’ll step on anyone to climb the ladder of success, often resorting to exploitation or instigating conflicts to maintain dominance.


The Communal Narcissist:  Beneath the Martyr’s Mask

Beware of the self-proclaimed martyr who appears altruistic on the surface. The communal narcissist seeks admiration under the guise of selflessness, often expressing moral outrage and claiming superiority in empathy and care.


The Malignant Narcissist:  Darkness Lurking Within


At the apex of narcissism lies the malignant type, blending egocentrism with traits of antisocial personality disorder. Their aggression, paranoia, and lack of empathy can manifest in sadistic behavior, posing significant risks to those around them.


Is All Narcissism Bad?


While some narcissistic traits may seem advantageous, such as drive and self-sufficiency (referred to as adaptive narcissism), others, like exploitation and aggression (termed maladaptive narcissism), can wreak havoc on individuals and their interactions.


“You will never get the truth out of a Narcissist. The closest you will ever come is a story that either makes them the victim or the hero, but never the villain.”  Shannon L. Alder


Reclaim Your Power


Understanding the multifaceted nature of narcissism is the first step toward reclaiming your power and fostering healthier relationships. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and remember—you deserve to be seen and valued for who you truly are.

Living with a narcissist can be dangerous – not just to your mental health and self-esteem.  If you feel unable to cope, do seek help sooner rather than later.  For a free no obligation chat to find out how I could help you, contact me on 0345 130 0854, or here.

Next time, I will share some techniques to help you deal with the narcissist in your life.  Stay tuned!  Do sign-up if you haven’t already to make sure you get updates.


(C) Tricia Woolfrey